Food & Agriculture Update: May 3, 2019

Food & Agriculture Update | May 3, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor and Hai Pham
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
2019 Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam, June 26-28
The Council is registering members for its Food & Agriculture Industry Mission to Vietnam on June 26-28, 2019, including an ASEAN Safe, Nutritious Food PPP Initiative Workshop on June 26. This sector focused mission will offer members an opportunity to engage key public and private sector stakeholders which make up Vietnam's domestic agriculture ecosystem. The deadline for registration is COB Thursday, May 23. If you have any questions, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org and Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
UN-ASEAN Study on Drought and Steps Forward

On April 25 at the 34th Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management in Mandalay, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) and ASEAN launched a joint study titled “Ready for the Dry Years: Building Resilience to Drought in South-East Asia” that brings attention to future scenarios of drought in parts of Southeast Asia and calls for intervention to build resilience before it is too late. In recent years, the ongoing drought conditions have negatively affected climates in Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. The droughts have generated agricultural, environmental and socio-economic impacts, including reducing agricultural productivity (especially in a region where a large number of the population rely on the agricultural sector) worsening economic inequalities and harming to the environment.

The study shows that climate change means the drought will continue but calls for interventions by all parties to help reduce the impacts of drought and protect the affected population, which are often the poorest clusters of communities. At both the national and regional levels across the region, more can be done in forecasting and efficient forms of response to make ASEAN nations more resilient. ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi touched on the three proposed priority areas of intervention outlined in the study: strengthening drought risk assessment and early warning services; fostering risk financing instruments that can insure communities against slow-onset droughts; and enhancing people’s capacities to adapt to drought. As each economy across ASEAN looks toward the future and develops its own agricultural modernization strategy, high-tech agriculture and innovation in this sector can play a key role in addressing many challenges, and the private sector can be an important resource for the policy-makers in the years to come.

Vietnam Bans Glyphosate-based Crop Protection Products
At the end of March, the Vietnam Plant Protection Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) announced its plans to introduce a ban the import of glyphosate-based herbicides. Following these reports, MARD officially announced in early April that it had removed glyphosate from the list of approved pesticides in the country. This decision to halt imports will go into effect 60 days after the announcement, and the ban on domestic use will go into effect after one year. Following Vietnam’s announcement, the United States, Germany, Canada and Australia sent requests to MARD to follow a science-based approach to formulating such import regulations in line with Vietnam’s international trade agreement related commitments. The industry is also working to engage with key decision-makers in Vietnam to provide comments and assistance around this decision.  The Council joined other industry groups in requesting the Government of Vietnam to delay the enactment of any decision on crop protection products until both an evidence-based review is conducted by the Vietnamese government consistent with international best practice, and a full consultation exercise is undertaken with affected stakeholders. The Council will continue to track this issue and provide updates to members.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Fall Armyworm Issue in Thailand
The Fall Armyworm has caused significant damage to crops in Africa and South Asia. This pest was also found in 24 provinces in Thailand, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has warned of a strong threat of spreading to the rest of Southeast Asia, given the region’s conducive tropical and subtropical climate. To address this and help farmers protect against this threat, the Council in cooperation with Kasetsart University will be conducting a two-day program in Bangkok and Lopburi on May 22-23. As part of this program, the Council will be inviting ASEAN agricultural officials from several countries in ASEAN (specifically officials who are responsible for addressing and mitigating these risks, such as representatives from the plant protection or pesticides department) to travel to Bangkok and participate in a roundtable discussion and field visit. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor at skapoor@usasean.org

Technical Barrier to Trade in U.S.-Vietnam Agricultural Trade

The Council has been working with the U.S. grains industry on an issue that is affecting U.S. grains trade with Vietnam. On March 1, Vietnam's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) implemented a regulation on grains import that is a technical barrier to trade - a zero tolerance policy on traces of Canadian Thistle in grains shipment entering Vietnam, requiring processing before the shipment enters Vietnam and re-exportation if traces are found. While we are supportive of MARD's Plant Protection Department (PPD) and its intention to protect the animal and plant health in Vietnam, the industry's stance is that this policy is not practical, and the added costs associated with the risk of shipments being re-exported will deter companies from shipping to Vietnam. A reduction of U.S. grain imports could negatively impact the U.S.-Vietnam agricultural trade relationship, which has historically been balanced, as well as adversely affect the overall trade deficit between that the United States has with Vietnam.

Following the policy implementation, the Council transmitted a letter to MARD earlier this month to offer its assistance in working through this issue with PPD officials. Suggestions include the establishment of a regular public-private consultation process to address policies related to plant health concerns. Through these platforms, we can identify best practices with industry assistance and apply science-based, internationally accepted industry protocols that will enable Vietnam to continue importing U.S. wheat, soybeans and corn. The Council also plans to convene a meeting between U.S. industry representatives and MARD/PPD officials in Vietnam as soon as possible to discuss mutual interests in Vietnam's plant protection and imported grains requirements. 

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Brunei, Bangladesh strengthen cooperation in agriculture, LNG supply
Brunei, M’sia pen agreement to boost agriculture industries

Cambodia
NA President Wants More In-depth Cambodia-Myanmar Relations
Cambodia asks for Asean help in EU tariff dispute
Workshop on Animal Feed Management in Siem Reap Province
Minister of Agriculture Receives Director of Heifer Cambodia
Can Blockchain help rice farmers fight poverty?
US$12 Million Invested in Mango Processing
African Swine Fever Detected in a Northeastern Province
EIB Consider Possible Projects to Support Cambodia’s Agriculture
Cambodia’s black pepper looks to international market

Indonesia
Government introduces B100 biofuel for cars, tractors
Ministry pins hopes on N. Sumatra for coffee export

Laos
Laos to produce over 5 mln tons of rice annually by 2025 - Xinhua

Malaysia
Minister: Malaysia eyeing RM10b worth of potential investments from Dubai Expo 2020
Takeover of NFC project to be finalised soon - Salahuddin
FGV, PLS Plantation look to developing durian plantations
P&G and Yara advocates sustainable agriculture
Salahuddin rates himself six out of 10 after a year as agriculture minister
Be one step ahead in tackling palm oil yo-yo market, says Tun Daim
RM1 billion cash crop project to help restore Felda's financial health
National Agriculture Bureau of China to visit Uggah end of May
Wong seeking collaboration in agriculture
Home, Agriculture, Defence Ministries join forces to tackle worsening illegal fishing problem
Sugar tax will not involve drinks served at eateries, says health minister
‘Export won’t hit durian prices’

Myanmar
GAP certificates issued to nine coffee plantations
MoU on rice exports signed with Yunnan govt
Myanmar to export farmed fisheries to EU from May onwards
Indian agribusiness granted IFC loan to expand Myanmar facilities
Maize farmers hopeful despite declining price
Govt seeks Netherlands advice on establishing agricultural colleges

Philippines
More cheap imported rice available soon
Agriculture loan repayment rate falls due to calamities
Philippines sugar output seen improving 5%
DA poised to upgrade farmers’ role
Agri chief reaffirms rice self-sufficiency goal
Agriculture dep’t hoping to get Japan to ease 100% banana testing regime 
PHL seen to suffer glut in chicken meat
Philippines, South Korea to pursue free trade agreement
US, Japan trade talks conclude with agriculture focus
13,000 farmers benefit from P22.9-million DAR projects in Zamboanga Peninsula
Bulk of P10-B rice fund earmarked for farm modernization 
DAR: Rice-centric model will never be successful
Philippines targets up to 8% growth in halal exports 
Agriculture food exports to drop in 2019 on lower production
Gov’t to adopt measures to address El Niño

Thailand
Imports of 3 pesticides to be cut in half
Meeting with lenders on high-value trees
'Agri-map' aims to fix farms' supply inefficiencies
Govt urged to help farmers shift practices
Agency monitoring food prices

Vietnam
Export of poultry products sees great potentials
Drastic measures needed to lift yellow card
Agro-forestry-fishery exports fetch 12.4 billion USD in four months
International co-operation drives agriculture development
Forestry exports on the rise
Mekong Delta needs to develop logistics to cut export costs: conference
Hà Nội helps bring farmers into 21st century with tech
EU remains top market of Vietnamese shrimp
Vietnam agriculture giant wagers on banana
Action programme on sustainable development in Mekong Delta
Poultry sector works hard to meet rising demand
US scraps anti-dumping duty on Vietnamese shrimp
Vietnam bans weed killer ingredient glyphosate
Farming production adapts to climate change
Minister asks for efforts to achieve shrimp export targets
Vietnam, Netherlands agree to enhance agricultural partnership
Hoa Binh province declares free from African swine fever
Vietnam targets 10 billion USD from seafood exports in 2019
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Brunei, Bangladesh strengthen cooperation in agriculture, LNG supply Borneo Bulletin Online 23rd Apr 2019
HIS Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam received in audience Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina at Cheradi Laila Kenchana of Istana Nurul Iman yesterday. Upon arrival at the Istana Nurul Iman, His Majesty welcomed Sheikh Hasina and introduced her to members of the royal family. His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Malik; His Royal Highness Prince ‘Abdul Mateen; His Royal Highness Prince Mohamed Bolkiah; His Royal Highness Prince Haji Jefri Bolkiah; and Her Royal Highness Princess Hajah Masna, Ambassador-at-Large at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and other members of the royal family were present at the audience ceremony.

Brunei, M’sia pen agreement to boost agriculture industries Borneo Bulletin 11th Apr 2019
BRUNEI and Malaysia achieved another milestone in their bilateral agricultural cooperation with the signing of the ‘Strategic Alliances Agreement on the Multiuse Products for Agriculture’ between International Halal Trade Hub and Services Sdn Bhd (IHTHS) and Malaysia’s Economic Development Management (EDMO). The signing, led by the Brunei Darussalam BIMP-EAGA Business Council (BD-BEBC) and facilitated by Brunei’s Industry and Business Ecosystem Division at the Ministry of Energy, Manpower and Industry (MEMI) and the Malaysia Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), was inked in a ceremony held onboard a cruise boat at the Queen Elizabeth Jetty in Jalan Kota Batu. Chairman of BD-BEBC Pengiran Haji Yura Kesteria bin Pengiran Setia Negara Dr Pengiran Haji Mohd Yusof was the guest of honour. Also in attendance were Assistant Director of Industry and Business Ecosystem at the MEMI Subandi bin Kamis and Dr Ramlee bin Mohd Noor from MARDI.

Cambodia

NA President Wants More In-depth Cambodia-Myanmar Relations Agence Kampuchea Presse 30th Apr 2019
Samdech Akka Moha Ponhea Chakrei Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly (NA) of Cambodia, received here this morning at the NA Palace H.E. Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. In the meeting, Samdech Heng Samrin expressed the NA’s intention to see the Governments of Cambodia Myanmar continue fostering their cooperation in the fields of agriculture, trade, tourism, education, and culture in particular.

Cambodia asks for Asean help in EU tariff dispute Khmer Times 24th Apr 2019
Cambodia has asked fellow Asean member states to issue a joint declaration to the European Union decrying the EU’s decision earlier this year to impose import duties on Cambodian rice. The request was made by Cambodian Commerce Minister Pan Sorasak during the Asean Business Advisory Council Consultation meeting, held in Thailand on Monday. Last week the Ministry of Commerce announced that it is considering issuing a complaint on the issue to the European Court of Justice. Minister Sorasak also asked that permanent missions to the World Trade Organization of each Asean country issue statements to support Cambodia’s declaration. According to the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the Asean economic ministers agreed to the Kingdom’s requests. The European Union imposed tariffs in January on Cambodian and Burmese rice to curb what it said was a surge in imports from these countries that was detrimental to EU producers, particularly those in Italy and Spain. During the first year, 175 euros ($199.5) per tonne will be levied, 150 euros ($171) in the second year, and 125 euros ($142.5) in the last.

Workshop on Animal Feed Management in Siem Reap Province AKP 23rd Apr 2019
Mr. Sok Seang Lim (C, Pic. 1), Director of Animal Health and Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, presides over in Siem Reap provincial city this morning a Workshop on Animal Feed Management in the province.

Minister of Agriculture Receives Director of Heifer Cambodia AKP 19th Apr 2019
Cambodia's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, H.E. Veng Sakhon received here yesterday the Director of Heifer International Cambodia Ms. Keo Kieng. In the meeting, Ms. Keo Kieng briefed H.E. Minister on the progress of the collaboration projects between the ministry and Heifer International Cambodia, and laid stress on the organisation's commitment to further cooperate with the ministry. According to Ms. Keo Kieng, some 35,000 farmer households in 11 provinces have been benefited from the projects. For his part, H.E. Veng Sakhon highly valued the achievements of the collaboration projects, saying that they do not only benefit the targeted farmers, but also people as a whole in the context of economic growth. Heifer is an international NGO actively working to empower small-scale farmers on the path to living incomes through collective power of economic development, food security and nutrition, and environmental sustainability.

Can Blockchain help rice farmers fight poverty? Oxfam 26th Apr 2019
Rice farming in Cambodia is a risky business. When farmers plant their rice, it’s hard for them to predict what price they could possibly get after their harvest. The poorest farmers have no buyers lined up, nor do they have mills to process their grain or vehicles to take it to a market. All they can do is sell their rice to anyone who happens by with a truck, usually at a low price, and hope they can pay back their loans. Farmers also contend with droughts, floods, high costs for seeds and fertilizer and tools, as well as fluctuating global prices. It’s all beyond their control.

US$12 Million Invested in Mango Processing AKP 19th Apr 2019
Royal Government of Cambodia has licensed an investment of almost US$12 million to process domestic mangos, particularly for exports. The mango processing factory branded LBN Agriculture Co., Ltd. was granted the green light by the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) recently and was expected to contribute essentially to Cambodia’s agriculture as well as farmers’ livelihood. Located along National Road No. 7 in Memut district of Thbong Khmum province, the plant with specific investment of US$11.9 million will create 135 jobs for the locals. As planned, the group will process mangos – a Cambodia’s most-grown fruit – into Sweet Mango Chutney, Mango Candy, Mango Squash, Mango Pickle and beyond. The move is part of the government’s commitment to further promote agriculture, especially the crops widely grown.

African Swine Fever Detected in a Northeastern Province Agence Kampuchea Presse 10th Apr 2019
The Cambodian authorities as well as farmers are joining hands to prevent the African swine fewer (ASF) after it was detected in a northeastern province of Cambodia since late March. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, local veterinarians and experts are closely monitoring the disease since it was reported in Somthom commune, O' Ya Dav district, Rattanakiri province where more than 400 pigs died. Mr. Srun Pov, President of the Cambodian Animal Raisers Association, voiced his concerns over this animal epidemic. He told local media that the association is working with the authorities, especially the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to take action against its spread. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health, ASF is a highly contagious haemorrhagic viral disease of domestic and wild pigs, which is responsible for serious economic and production losses. It is caused by a large DNA virus of the Asfarviridae family, which also infects ticks of the genus Ornithodoros.

EIB Consider Possible Projects to Support Cambodia’s Agriculture Agence Kampuchea Presse 5th Apr 2019
European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering possible projects to support physical infrastructure and farming development for Cambodia’s agriculture. The interest was underlined by EIB loan officer Ms. Olga Pascenco when received on Wednesday by Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries H.E. Veng Sakhon at his office here in Phnom Penh. EIB, said Ms. Olga Pascenco, is focusing in awareness building about climate change impacts on agriculture, especially through tree planting to promote biodiversity and natural resources, and through establishment of ecotourism that will also improve local livelihoods. From his end, H.E. Veng Sakhon welcomed the willingness of EIB to support Cambodia’s agriculture, and thanked European countries and peoples for contributing to the Kingdom’s development so far. He also proposed the EIB delegation to consider supporting Cambodia with complete procession chain for cash crops such as cassava, corn, mango and cashew nut, and modern irrigation system. The EIB regional officer hoped to bring the minister’s proposal for further discussion among the management of her bank.

Cambodia’s black pepper looks to international market | #AsiaNewsNetwork Eleven Media 1st Apr 2019
Soeng Sopha, the general manager of Sela Pepper, a pepper processing and packaging firm based in the province, sat down with The Post’s Cheng Sokhorng to discuss the challenges to be overcome, the market and how to promote growth in the sector.

Indonesia

Government introduces B100 biofuel for cars, tractors The Jakarta Post 17th Apr 2019
The Agriculture Ministry has developed B100 biofuel, which is made of palm oil, in an effort to boost domestic crude palm oil (CPO) consumption amid resistance from the European Union.Experts lauded the achievement but said it was too early for automakers to produce vehicles that could run on the environmentally friendly biofuel.Speaking after a trial run of 50 cars and tractors using the biofuel in Jakarta, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaeman said automakers should produce agricultural vehicles that could run on the biofuel, which was developed by the ministry's research and development arm.Amran said the ministry would focus on developing it for the agricultural sector.

Ministry pins hopes on N. Sumatra for coffee export The Jakarta Post 9th Apr 2019
The Agriculture Ministry is pinning its hopes on North Sumatra for a rebound in Indonesia’s Arabica coffee bean exports after the province shipped Rp 72.9 billion (US$5.15 million) worth of the commodity recently.North Sumatra, known for its Mandailing, Lintong and Sidikalang coffee varieties, exported 819 tons of beans to the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Romania, Japan, Canada, Belgium, Mexico, Taiwan, China, Australia and Singapore last week.The ministry’s Agriculture Quarantine Agency head Ali Jamil said that so far, a total of 40 countries had imported the commodity from North Sumatra.He said he expected North Sumatra to increase its coffee bean exports this year amid Indonesia’s declining exports of the commodity in the last three years.

Laos

Laos to produce over 5 mln tons of rice annually by 2025 - Xinhua Xinhua 29th Apr 2019
The Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry plans to produce at least five million tons of paddy rice every year, as the country's latest five-year agricultural strategy by 2025 states. The report, a five-year development plan until 2025, states that the Lao ministry's expectation is for the Gross Domestic Product of the agriculture and forestry sector to grow at an average rate of 3.4 percent. This would mean the sector would contribute 19 percent to the national economy, local daily Vientiane Times reported on Monday. By 2025, using good agricultural planning and in cooperation with industry partners, the Lao ministry says all Lao citizens will have a daily minimum intake of 2,600 kilocalories. Each year, the Lao ministry plans for a national yield of at least five million tons of paddy rice, of which 30 percent is non-glutinous. Economists have urged the government to implement policies that will assist the agriculture sector and rice growers in particular. Productive agriculture is key to the eradication of poverty and improved livelihoods, the daily report said.

Malaysia

Minister: Malaysia eyeing RM10b worth of potential investments from Dubai Expo 2020 Malay Mail 29th Apr 2019
Malaysia aims to achieve RM10 billion worth of potential investments and businesses from Dubai Expo 2020, said Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin. She said Malaysia had targeted to secure 1,000 business leads and achieve 20 partnership agreements during the six-month long expo.

Takeover of NFC project to be finalised soon - Salahuddin Malaysiakini 29th Apr 2019
The acquisition of the National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project will be finalised soon, after taking into account its legal implications to the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry. Its minister Salahuddin Ayub said there were still ongoing talks between the ministry and the companies that had expressed interest in the project. "So far, there are there are two or three companies that are interested, but only one (company) is serious. "We will look at the legal implications on the ministry. If it goes smoothly and the company can refund the RM250 million (which is the government's loan to NFC earlier) to the ministry, why not (approve the takeover)?” He told this to reporters after the launch of the "MyGreenTeam" programme, a project in collaboration with the Farmers’ Organisation Authority (LPP) and the Education Ministry at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato' Penggawa Barat, Pontian today. Also present were LPP chairperson Mazlan Alima, its director-general Azulita Salim and a representative of the Johor state education director, Yusman Jamsir.

FGV, PLS Plantation look to developing durian plantations Malaysiakini 29th Apr 2019
Following the signing of a heads of agreement (HoA), FGV Holdings Bhd (FGV) and PLS Plantation Bhd (PLS) are exploring the potential of forming a joint venture (JV) for the development of cash crop plantations, primarily durian. FGV group chief executive officer Haris Fadzilah Hassan said the collaboration was part of FGV’s strategy to make productive use of unplanted areas that are unsuitable for oil palm, and explore additional revenue streams by increasing the percentage of cash crops. He said FGV’s logistics and support businesses sector would also benefit from the partnership as it offers a reliable logistical network through strategic collaborations.

P&G and Yara advocates sustainable agriculture NST Online 26th Apr 2019
Procter & Gamble Company (P&G) has formed a pact with Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation (MISI), International Plant Nutrition Institute (IPNI) and Yara International to help improve the livelihood of smallholders within the group’s palm supply chain in Malaysia. After a successful pilot ran between 2015 and 2018, P&G said it was expanding the programme that partners with independent palm oil smallholders to increase their overall fruit yields through the training and implementation of best-in-class, and more sustainable agricultural practices. P&G said the pilot was focused on assessing the baseline capability of around 2,000 smallholder farmers in Johor. Given its success, the programme is expanding to create 250 learning farms which will be embedded in a P&G-led innovation system.

Salahuddin rates himself six out of 10 after a year as agriculture minister Malay Mail 23rd Apr 2019
Datuk Salahuddin Ayub has given himself an above average score when asked to rate his performance as agriculture and agro-based industry minister since Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government last May. “Rate myself? On a scale of one to 10, maybe six or seven,” he told Malay Mail yesterday.

Be one step ahead in tackling palm oil yo-yo market, says Tun Daim NST Online 21st Apr 2019
Malaysia must be one step ahead in planning ways to react to the price volatility in the palm oil market to protect the country’s source of income, as well as the wellbeing of smallholders. Council of Eminent Persons chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin said since Malaysia was a small country and 80 per cent of its crude palm oil (CPO) and palm oil-based products were exported, it was vital for the country to team up with Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of the commodity, especially in tackling the challenges from the European Union and the United States-China trade dispute. “We must work with Indonesia because Malaysia is a small nation (with 31 million people as at 2017) and together with Indonesia, home to 264 million people, we can fight the battle together,” he said.

RM1 billion cash crop project to help restore Felda's financial health NST Online 19th Apr 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MAO) in collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Affairs will undertake a RM1 billion cash crop project to help restore Felda’s financial health within five years. Its minister, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub, said the decision was made at the meeting of the National Physical Planning Council (NPPC) on Friday with Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali who tabled the new approach. “To restore Felda’s financial position, perhaps a quarter of the RM1 billion will be used to start the project. “Indeed these two ministries must cooperate in this effort.

National Agriculture Bureau of China to visit Uggah end of May Borneo Post Online 27th Apr 2019
The National Agriculture Bureau of China is keen to visit the Land of the Hornbills to explore opportunities to help Sarawak develop its agriculture sector. The mainland Chinese bureau had affirmed its intention of paying a courtesy call on Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas in the city end of May this year. This was revealed by Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, who attended the Belt and Road CEO Conference in Beijing recently.

Wong seeking collaboration in agriculture Borneo Post Online 25th Apr 2019
Minister of International Trade and E-Commerce Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh, who is presently representing Sarawak at the Belt and Road CEO Conference in Beijing China, has met up with officials from the office of deputy director of the Centre for International Agriculture Research to look into the viability of collaboration and technology transfer. Mooted by Wong, the proposed Modern Agriculture Technology Park in Kuching/Samarahan has been approved by the Sarawak government, and a signing ceremony of the project is scheduled to take place at the conference on April 25.

Home, Agriculture, Defence Ministries join forces to tackle worsening illegal fishing problem Malay Mail 24th Apr 2019
The Home Ministry, Ministry of Agriculture and Agro based Industry (MoA), and Ministry of Defence are joining forces to tackle the issue of foreign fishing vessels encroaching into Malaysian waters. In an announcement today, the Home Ministry said it will lead this task force with the Cabinet’s approval to mobilise all available assets to tackle the issue which is costing the local fish industry RM6 billion in losses each year. “Cases of foreign fisherman encroaching into our waters is nothing new but lately it’s getting worse,” said Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during the joint press conference at his ministry here.food

Sugar tax will not involve drinks served at eateries, says health minister New Straits Times 8th Apr 2019
The excise tax of 40 sen per litre on sweetened beverages scheduled for implementation from July 1 will not affect drinks prepared and served at eateries, including Indian Muslim restaurants and food kiosks, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. “At the moment, we (Health Ministry) are not regulating on those (eateries),” he said when asked whether the tax would be imposed on such eateries as the sugar content of drinks prepared and served was higher than those of factory-produced beverages. The excise tax of 40 sen per litre on sweetened beverages was initially scheduled for implementation on April 1 but was postponed to July 1. When tabling Budget 2019 last November, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced that the excise tax would be imposed on drinks containing more than 5gm of sugar or sugar-based sweetener per 100 ml, as well as fruit and vegetable juices with sugar content of more than 12gm per 100 ml.

‘Export won’t hit durian prices’ The Star 4th Apr 2019
PRICES of durian in the local market will not go up drastically following the plan to export frozen whole durian to China. Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Minister Sim Tze Tzin said Malaysians should not be too worried as the 67 farms selected to export the fruit involve only 464ha out of 72,464ha of durian orchards in the country. “Besides this, only the Musang King variety has been earmarked for export,” he said at Parliament lobby. According to trade data from the United Nations, durian exports to China have been rising at 35% on average a year and were worth US$1.1bil in 2017, up from just US$243mil a decade ago. While Malaysia previously expor­ted only downstream durian pro­ducts to China, the recent initiative by the government to export frozen whole fruit has created fear among locals that they might have to pay a higher price for the king of the fruit. Earlier in his reply to Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Kepong) during Minister’s Question Time, Sim said authorities from China would inspect durian orchards and their facilities soon.

Malaysian palm oil price up 2 pct on stronger related oils The Star 3rd Apr 2019
Malaysian palm oil futures surged nearly 2 percent on Tuesday evening, tracking gains in related edible oils and on prospects of reduced stockpiles because of higher exports. The benchmark palm oil contract for June delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was up 1.9 percent at 2,153 ringgit ($527.31) a tonne at the close of trade, its highest for a week. The contract also registered its sharpest daily gain since Jan. 3 and a second straight session of gains. "Palm took cues from overnight gains in soybean oil futures," said one Kuala Lumpur-based futures trader, adding that March export data from cargo surveyors also supported the market. "Exports are good, it is possible that end-stocks will reduce." Cargo surveyors Intertek Testing Services and AmSpec Agri Malaysia on Monday said that Malaysia's palm oil exports in March rose about 22 percent from the previous month.

Sarawak timber companies feeling the heat from jump in taxes The Star 2nd Apr 2019
Sarawak timber companies are feeling the heat from the sharp increase in the cost of production of logs and timber products following the hefty jump in timber taxes. According to the Sarawak Timber Association (STA), the increase in hill timber premium and rehabilitation and development cess, which amounted to RM55 per cu m, has raised the costs of logs and timber products by RM110 per cu m, assuming a recovery rate of 50%. The STA is the umbrella body for upstream and downstream timber players in the state. Since July 1, 2017, Sarawak government had raised timber premium by over 6,000% to RM50 per cu m from 80 sen per cu m for all species of logs from hills forests and logs of hill species from agro-conversion areas. The association said labour wages, reduced log production and the implementation of forest management certification scheme had also contributed to the current high cost of production of logs and timber products including plywood.

Myanmar

GAP certificates issued to nine coffee plantations The Myanmar Times 29th Apr 2019
Nine Pyin Oo Lwin coffee plantations qualified for Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) certifications on April 26, said U Myint Swe, director from Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation (MOALI). The nine coffee plantations are: Si Thar, Green Land 1 and 2, Mya Myanmar and Creation Myanmar from Pyin Oo Lwin, Mandalay, Mogok, Yamonar and Aung from Mogok township in Mandalay and Moe Htet from Nawngcho township, Shan State.

MoU on rice exports signed with Yunnan govt The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2019
The Ministry of Commerce (MOC) and government of Yunnan Province, China, signed a memorandum of understanding on the export of Myanmar rice and other crops to China on April 21. Under the agreement, Myanmar will be able to legally export crops such as rice as well as fisheries to China via the Muse border trade gate.

Myanmar to export farmed fisheries to EU from May onwards The Myanmar Times 23rd Apr 2019
Myanmar will be able to export farmed marine products to the European Union (EU) starting from May 1, said U Thet Naing, deputy director of the Quality Control and Research Division of Fisheries Department. Up until recently, the EU had only permitted imports of fish caught in the wild. From next week onwards, this will expand to include seven farmed fish, two prawn and one crab species. These include the Rohu, Mrigal, Katla and Carfu fish species, river catfish, barbus fish, spotted prawn, white prawn and soft shell crab.

Indian agribusiness granted IFC loan to expand Myanmar facilities The Myanmar Times 18th Apr 2019
Delhi-based Sohan Lal Commodity Management (SLCM) will use the capital to expand its warehousing and logistics services in Myanmar. The terms of the loan were however not disclosed. The company handles cotton, black pepper, rice, wheat, pulses, maize, sugar and spices in Myanmar, for both imports/exports and domestic consumption, according to SCLM assistant manager Diksha Arora. The Myanmar unit has managed 3.24 million square feet of commodity storage space in 127 industrial zones and handled 10.14 million tonnes of commodities. Agriculture is the backbone of Myanmar’s economy, while more than half of the national population live in rural areas. But the infrastructure and technology necessary for farmers and traders is severely underdeveloped. Many local warehouses are completely lacking in operational equipment and technology, such as CCTVs, dock levellers or a stable power supply.

Maize farmers hopeful despite declining price The Myanmar Times 11th Apr 2019
At the end of 2018, maize fetched K30,000 (US$20) per sack of three tins (each tin equivalent to nine gallons), but the price declined gradually from the beginning of the year to K22,500 before rebounding a bit.  The market price of a viss (1.6 kilograms) of maize is K330 to K400, which is higher than the low of K260-K340 set in 2015. During the 2015 slump, the price of a sack of maize was K17,000. Traders noted that the price of maize has inched up again in Myanmar due to demand from Thailand, U Soe Win Myint, a wholesaler in Mandalay, said. But he noted that the Thai demand is not enough to propel the price of the grain to last year’s level.   Myanmar planted 1.5 million acres of maize this year, and expects to harvest about 3.2 million tonnes.  China has been buying Myanmar maize since 1990, but local demand for the grain has also increased due to demand from animal food factories.

Govt seeks Netherlands advice on establishing agricultural colleges The Myanmar Times 10th Apr 2019
The officials, led by Deputy Minister U Hla Kyaw, met in Nay Pyi Taw last week with a delegation from AERES Group, the Netherlands’ leading education organisation.  “We have accepted the plan in principle but have no details yet. It will be more than one college, but we’re still discussing what we need to improve and what they will teach,” he said. If agricultural colleges are opened, there will be more opportunities for higher education for outstanding students from foreign agricultural institutes.  The colleges will require investment in infrastructure, specialised training for teachers, and developing a curriculum with local and international experts. The plan to establish agricultural colleges has been around since Myanmar and the Netherlands began the State Agricultural Institutes Development Project in 2016.

Philippines

More cheap imported rice available soon philstar.com 30th Apr 2019
The government expects more cheap imported rice to reach the general public. In a joint briefing of concerned agencies on Republic Act 11203 or the Rice Liberalization Law, the government released the guidelines on the entry of milled rice into the country. “This is very much faster than what we experienced when NFA (National Food Authority) was the one providing for the clearances to importers,” National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) assistant secretary Mercedita Sombilla said yesterday. The process is seen to take  only take less than a month or a maximum of 28 days. This will already include the registration with the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Plant Industry, processing of the sanitary and phytosanitary import clearance (SPSIC) application and the processing with the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Ports Authority. Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said the previous process took awhile because  NFA had a tedious process and there was no assurance that a trader would be allowed to import. “Now the main permit needed will come from DA-BPI and then the rest will be on the usual importation process. Hopefully, imported rice will be there in less than a month,” he said. Prior to the liberalization, the NFA used to import via government-to-private or the open tender and the much faster government-to-government scheme. “For one, the G2G is supposed to be fast or just about a month but I never experienced that,” Sombilla said. Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said the law providing for the ease of doing business would harmonize the whole process, from accreditation to importation. Lopez assured there would be no over importation of the commodity as the importers would be on the losing end once prices further decline due to oversupply. The Department of Trade and Industry is likewise optimistic there will be more rice available at a price of P32 per kilogram.

Agriculture loan repayment rate falls due to calamities Business World 29th Apr 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) said the repayment rate on its loan program for farmers fell this year because of damage to crops caused natural calamities last year. In a social media post Saturday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol said environmental conditions in 2018 put borrowers in an unfavorable position to repay debt incurred under the government’s Production Loan Easy Access (PLEA) program. “The national repayment rate is 91%, down from 98% last year, mainly due to the damage caused by typhoons,” he said. Mr. Piñol said PLEA has disbursed P1.7 billion worth of loans to farmers since it was launched in June 2017.

Philippines sugar output seen improving 5% philstar.com 29th Apr 2019
The country’s raw sugar production is expected to marginally improve in the next crop year despite the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said. In the latest report of the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), the Philippines is seen to produce 2.2 million metric tons of raw sugar, five percent higher than the expected 2.1 million MT in the current crop year.

DA poised to upgrade farmers’ role The Manila Times Online 27th Apr 2019
The Department of Agriculture (DA) has set high hopes that the country’s food producers would also be processors and entrepreneurs themselves to uplift their livelihood while increasing food production. The government failed to do this in the past years, which limited farmers capacity to raise their productivity and earnings, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said. For many years, he said Filipino farmers have been regarded as raw materials producers, when they can be processors and merchandisers of their products.

Agri chief reaffirms rice self-sufficiency goal philstar.com 26th Apr 2019
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol has not given up on his dream of seeing the Philippines achieve 100 percent rice self-sufficiency. “I still believe and am deeply convinced that we can still be able to achieve rice sufficiency,” Piñol said during the Department of Agriculture (DA)’s second quarter national management committee meeting. “Our adoption rate of hybrid at inbred seeds is only 60 percent, but we are already hitting 19 million metric tons,” he said.

Agriculture dep’t hoping to get Japan to ease 100% banana testing regime | BusinessWorld Business World 15th Apr 2019
THE Department of Agriculture (DA) hopes to meet with the Japanese government to seek an easing of its 100% testing regime for Philippine banana imports, after inspectors found unacceptable levels of chemical residue in one shipment last year. “We are meeting with banana sector leaders in Davao tonight,” Mr. Piñol said in a text message sent to BusinessWorld. In a social media post on Saturday, Mr. Piñol said that he will deal with the request made by the Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association, Inc. (PBGEA) to intervene with the Japanese government to expedite the entry of bananas from the Philippines.

PHL seen to suffer glut in chicken meat BusinessMirror 29th Apr 2019
THE Philippines is projected to suffer a glut in chicken meat this year as total supply is projected to reach at least 1.424 million metric tons, a figure that is 136,000 metric tons over the 1.288 MMT estimated total demand. Citing government data presented by the Department of Agriculture (DA) Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (Amas), United Broiler Raisers Association (Ubra) President Elias Jose Inciong said the total supply volume already includes imported stocks.

Philippines, South Korea to pursue free trade agreement Rappler 18th Apr 2019
The Philippines and South Korea, formally the Republic of Korea (ROK), have agreed to pursue a free trade agreement (FTA) in a bid to improve economic relations, according to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). In a statement on Wednesday, April 17, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said both countries "agreed to put their best effort to conclude the negotiations" by November 2019, just in time for the ROK-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. The Philippines and South Korea will also celebrate the 70th anniversary of their diplomatic ties that same month. In a separate message to reporters Wednesday night, Lopez said that they aim to have greater market access for agriculture exports, as well as better collaboration on trade and investments in technology, such as electric vehicles and electronics. "[This] FTA hopes to be future-oriented, that will differentiate this with other FTAs," Lopez added.

US, Japan trade talks conclude with agriculture focus Manila Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
Two days of trade talks between the US and Japan concluded Tuesday in Washington with a focus on the sensitive subject of agriculture, as US negotiators say they want a more open Japanese market. “The United States and Japan discussed trade issues involving goods, including agriculture, as well as the need to establish high standards in the area of digital trade,” US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement. The US delegation also mentioned its “very large” $67.6 billion trade deficit with Japan last year. Lighthizer’s statement said he and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi agreed that the two countries will meet again in the “near future” as part of the ongoing trade talks. President Donald Trump has said he wants Tokyo to further open its market to US products, especially in the agricultural sector, though the Japanese have so far appeared reluctant.

13,000 farmers benefit from P22.9-million DAR projects in Zamboanga Peninsula Manila Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
The Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has turned over P22.9-million worth of projects and distributed land titles to farmer-beneficiaries in Zamboanga Peninsula. DAR Secretary John Castriciones led the turnover of a total of 43 projects, which include post-harvest facilities, food processing centers, reservoirs, warehouses, potable water systems, and provision of farm machines. “These projects are significant in achieving progress in rural communities. These facilities and farm machines were provided not only to make life easier for our farmers, but also to sustain the development of their communities,” Castriciones said. Most of the assistance was coursed through agrarian cooperatives. The DAR chief said at least 13,000 farmers and residents in the Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga del Sur are now benefitting from these projects. Of this number, 5,396 are agrarian reform beneficiaries. Castriciones urged the farmers to strengthen their farm cooperatives, a government prerequisite before any assistance is extended to them.

Bulk of P10-B rice fund earmarked for farm modernization — NEDA Manila Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said that bulk of the rice competitiveness enhancement fund (RCEF) will be used to modernize palay farms and support the government’s goal of increasing the sector’s productivity. Republic Act No. 11203 mandates the establishment of RCEF, which guarantees the rice sector P10-billion financial support annually for the next six years beginning this year. According to the law’s implementing rules and regulations (IRR) recently signed by NEDA, the Department of Budget and Management, and the Department of Agriculture, half of the rice fund, amounting to P5 billion annually, will be used to procure rice farm equipment by the government through the Philippine Center for postharvest development and mechanization (PhilMech). Equipment such as tillers, tractors, seeders, threshers, rice planters, harvesters, and irrigation pumps will be given as a grant-in-kind primarily to eligible farmers, rice farmer associations, and registered rice cooperatives. As a result, the existing outlay of the DA on farm mechanization for rice is expected to have an additional P5 billion allocation from only P1.92 billion in 2018.

DAR: Rice-centric model will never be successful Philippines Star 15th Apr 2019
The country’s aspiration for full rice self-sufficiency will never be successful as several constraints will hinder the Philippines from reaching this goal and it can only settle for 95 percent at the most, according to a former agrarian reform secretary. Speaking at the Economic Journalists Association of the Philippines-San Miguel Corp. Business Journalism Seminar over the weekend, William Dar said there is a need to reinvent the approach in the farm sector as the rice-centered model has not been and “will never be successful.” “Not just in this administration, over the last 30 years, producing rice has been the goal and they did not give a chance for high value agriculture to succeed,” Dar said. “If being rice-centric will still be our model and the goal is still to achieve 100 percent (rice self-sufficiency) then we will have more failures in the future. We need to have this mindset of agri-industrial system, that is the way forward,” he said.

Philippines targets up to 8% growth in halal exports | Philstar.com philstar.com 12th Apr 2019
The Philippines wants to grow its halal exports by six to eight percent this year to take advantage of the huge demand for such products in the global market, a trade official said. Abdulgani Macatoman, undersecretary for trade promotions group at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), said yesterday the Philippines is aiming to become a major player in the halal market particularly in the areas of food, pharmaceuticals, tourism, as well as Islamic finance. DTI-Export Marketing Bureau assistant director Anthony Rivera said the agency would want halal exports to rise by six to eight percent this year from the estimated value of $560 million last year. He said bulk or 90 percent of the country’s halal exports last year were accounted for by food and non-alcoholic beverages. Other major halal exports of the country last year are pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and personal care products. Last year’s halal exports from the Philippines were shipped to countries in the Gulf Cooperating Council countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, as well as other markets such as Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore.

Agriculture food exports to drop in 2019 on lower production Philippines Star 12th Apr 2019
The country’s agricultural food exports will further slide this year amid declining production of raw materials. The Philippine Food Processors and Exporters Organization Inc. (PhilFoodex) said agricultural exports for 2019 may decline by 20 percent following the rising cost of materials for agriculture produce due to lack of supply. “I think we will still be experiencing a deficit in our trade balance between other countries and definitely the widening gap of agriculture exports and imports will be experienced,” PhilFoodex president Bobby Amores told reporters. “We are hoping that the production of raw materials will be normal, but because of certain issues on pest diseases and climate change, we can only hope that it will be experiencing a flat growth or a slightly lower growth compared to last year,” he added. Last year, export sales of agriculture and food reached $6.04 billion.

Gov’t to adopt measures to address El Niño Manila Bulletin 10th Apr 2019
The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said that the government will be adopting measures to mitigate the effects of El Niño, particularly on the prices and supply of goods in the market. Trade Undersecretary Ruth Castelo made the statement in a press briefing in Malacañang Wednesday. In her press briefing, Castelo said government agencies under the National Price Coordination Council (NPCC) would meet the same day to determine the effects of the phenomenon to agricultural products. “The DTI would convene the National Price Coordination Council (NPCC) on 10 April 2019 to discuss about the current prices and supply situation of basic and prime goods, and its forecast for the upcoming months,” she said. “The possibility of a stronger and prolonged El Niño episode together with the continued rise in global crude oil prices provide upside price pressures over the near term,” she added. According to Castelo, the NPCC intends to come up with mitigating measures to lessen the undeniable effects of the El Niño on the prices and supply of agricultural goods.

DAR distributes farm machinery to agrarian reform communities in Zamboanga Sibugay Manila Bulletin 9th Apr 2019
The income of Zamboanga Sibugay farmers is expected to increase after the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) turned over P1.2-million worth of farm machinery to the agrarian reform communities (ARC) in the province. “Our aim in providing these machines is to improve the rubber production of farmers by enabling them to have sufficient production, thereby increasing their income,” DAR Secretary John Castriciones said. The equipment turned over included 37 units of grass cutters, seven fogging machines, and seven augers or drilling devices. These were distributed to the Salipyasin ARC cluster which covers the municipalities of Tungawan, R.T. Lim, Ipil, Titay, Naga and Kabalasan. The Salipyasin ARC cluster is an agrarian area with rubber as its primary crop. Castriciones said the farm machines were purchased and distributed to the ARC cluster through the DAR’s Project Convergence on Value Chain Enhancement for Rural Growth and Empowerment (Project ConVERGE).

Water shortage, disasters, poverty, unemployment Manila Bulletin 9th Apr 2019
In the wake of the recent water shortage that hit the East Zone of Metro Manila, followed by warnings that  the country will  have a very  hot summer because of  the  El Nino phenomenon, last  week’s Cabinet meeting in Malacanang  discussed  several proposals aimed at solving problems  related to water and the weather. A  proposal  to create a Department  of Water was discussed  at  the  meeting. Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia, as early as last month, had proposed such a department,  under a plan that would   include all the  various measures designed  to ensure an adequate water supply in the country. The proposed  department would  also attend to  the water needs of Philippine  agriculture which has already suffered damage estimated at P5.05 billion because  of El Nino.  The plan  calls for the dredging of waterways, replacement  of tunnels and  aqueducts,  installation  of water tank systems in government  hospitals,  and funding for the establishment  of water treatment plants. The  cabinet  meeting  discussed a proposal for a Task Force to End Hunger. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles recalled that  the House of Representatives had approved his  Zero Hunger Bill, HB 7193, in August, 2018, but it was too late for the Senate to consider it before Congress adjourned. The administration is now considering the creation of a Task Force to End Hunger.

Rice Tariffication Law must be scrapped – Butil Party-list solon Manila Bulletin 8th Apr 2019
Filipino farmers are already asking for the abolition of the Rice Tarrification Law, or that vital amendments be made to it, according to Butil Party-list Rep. Cecil Chavez. According to Chavez, farmers were hoping that the upcoming 18th Congress would either work to scrap or amend the law, and in effect stop unlimited rice importation that is at the heart of the statute. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) announced the full implementation of the Rice Tariffication Law over the weekend after all concerned government agencies approved its implementing rules and regulations, or IRR. Chavez bared that farm organizations and rural cooperatives in Nueva Ecija held on Monday a peaceful rally and a motorcade from San Jose City to Gapan to express their opposition to the law, “which is already wreaking havoc in the country’s acknowledged rice granary.” The lady solon said that the farmers in Central Luzon were weary of rice importations, which–coupled with high cost of production and the lack of subsidies and other agricultural support–have been hurting the rice industry and causing economic difficulties to farmers even before the law’s passage.

Provinces urged to craft master plan for agri development Philippines Star 7th Apr 2019
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture will craft a national masterplan which will focus on environmental protection for greater food production. Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the national program to be launched in May, is aimed at helping provinces craft a sustainable agricultural master plan. “The provincial agriculture master plan will identify the key agricultural infrastructure projects needed by each province so that these could be included in the annual program planning of the DA,” he said. “The agriculture master plan will also include aerial mapping and the updating of database of farmers and fishermen in each province,” Piñol added. Occidental Mindoro, one of the hardest hit areas by the ongoing El Niño, is the first province to accept the offer of the DA for the crafting of an agriculture master plan. The plan will include concerns on forest denudation and massive siltation of its rivers.

World Bank to aid Philippines in fight against plastic Rappler 4th Apr 2019
The World Bank Group said it would help the Philippines in its fight to end plastic pollution by supporting the development of policies and financing critical investments to curb the bane of marine and coastal resources. Prior to this, World Bank portfolio manager Agata Pawlowska said during the Marine Plastics Conference in the Philippines on Thursday, April 4, that they have been working with both public and private sectors in Southeast Asia to address the problem of plastic waste. "We have already mobilized teams to assist our client countries at the global, regional as well as national levels through different financing modalities and investments," she added. Just last year, World Bank launched PROBLUE, a multi-donor trust fund that will support any project addressing marine litter.

El Niño damage to rice and corn crop tops ₱5B | BusinessWorld Business World 3rd Apr 2019
THE DEPARTMENT of Agriculture (DA) said that El Niño crop damage mainly to rice and corn is now estimated at P5.05 billion, on lost volume of 276,568 metric tons (MT), as a result of the dry spell. “Everyday that passes where there is no rain, there will be greater damage, and so the total damage to crops, mainly rice and corn, has breached the 5-billion level,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters Tuesday. The DA estimated Tuesday that the dry spell has affected 177,743 hectares of agricultural land and 164,672 farmers as of April 2.

Palay prices continue to drop at farmgate despite El Niño losses | BusinessWorld Business World 1st Apr 2019
RICE prices continued to decline at farmgate level, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said, despite mounting losses to domestic production caused by El Niño, ahead of the entry into the market of more foreign rice imported by the private sector. The average farmgate price of palay, or unmilled rice, dropped for a fourth consecutive week to P18.98 per kilogram (kg) in the third week of March, down 0.26% week-on-week, according to PSA data released on Monday.

Singapore

Parliament: Big push to grow Singapore's food and water resources to ensure survival in the face of climate change Straits Times 2nd Apr 2019
With global warming heralding new threats, resource scarcity will be the new normal. So the Government is throwing its weight behind efforts to protect and provide for the country's survival - in the areas of water, making the most of waste, food and climate change research - Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said on Thursday (March 7). "Climate change is bringing new and wicked problems," he said in Parliament. "It is no coincidence that we are building more desalination and Newater plants - we need to produce water almost at will, regardless of whether the rains come." And just like the country's water success story, the same can be done in other areas, through long-term planning decades before a problem surfaces, he said, pointing out that Newater was more than two decades in the making. "Faced with a challenge, we start small, learn from others, harness technology, invest in R&D. Keep on trying, until we get it right.

Thailand

Imports of 3 pesticides to be cut in half Bangkok Post 25th Apr 2019
Agricultural officials will halve the imports of three controversial pesticides, including paraquat, as part of a push to phase out and ban the chemicals by next year. The move comes after the Hazardous Substance Committee decided in February not to ban paraquat, glyphosate and chlorpyrifos despite repeated calls from scholars, consumer groups and state agencies, including the Public Health Ministry. The import restriction is among measures to ensure fewer and safer uses of the pesticides as well as to find alternative solutions for farmers. According to the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, the last purpose will be conducive to a complete ban on the chemicals. The import restriction is among measures to decrease use of the pesticides and find alternative solutions for farmers.

Meeting with lenders on high-value trees Bangkok Post 12th Apr 2019
The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to meet with financial institutions after Songkran to ask the latter to accept high-value or economic trees as loan collateral from farmers. According to Vuttikrai Leewiraphan, director-general of the Business Development Department, the department will call a joint meeting on April 19 with financial institutions and related state units, including the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives (BAAC), the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank of Thailand, Krungthai Bank, Bangkok Bank, Kasikornbank, Siam Commercial Bank and the Thai Credit Guarantee Corporation. Officials will ask all parties for help in accepting high-value trees as loan collateral and discuss other issues deemed as obstacles to farmers gaining access to loans. The Commerce Ministry is working with the biodiversity-based Economy Development Office, the Royal Forest Department, the Forest Industry Organization, Kasetsart University and the BAAC to set up guideline prices for economic trees to be used as collateral under the new Secured Transactions Act.

'Agri-map' aims to fix farms' supply inefficiencies Bangkok Post 10th Apr 2019
The government is creating an "agri-map" to more efficiently manage the supply and demand of farm products as it moves to comprehensively reform the agricultural sector, Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach said on Tuesday. The map will enable government agencies to assess the specific amount of farm products to produce in different areas at various times of the year in order to prevent oversupply. Some crops flood the markets, driving down prices and prompting the government to fork out subsidies that can run into hundreds of billions of baht a year, according to the minister. A better management system is needed to strike a balance between supply and demand and ease pressure on the national budget, he said. Mr Grisada said he has instructed the ministry's permanent secretary and the Office of the Agricultural Economics to compile data about key cash crops and analyse it, with a focus on certain crops both domestically and abroad.

Govt urged to help farmers shift practices The Nation 9th Apr 2019
ENVIRONMENTAL experts are calling on the food industry to shift from monoculture maize farming both within and outside Thailand in order to sustainably solve the problem of air pollution from the burning of fields. They have also called on policymakers to come up with policies that help farmers opt for more ecologically friendly farming methods.  With provinces in the North again this year choking in dense smog from wildfires and outdoor burning, BioThai Foundation director Withoon Lienchamroon said the major cause of the chronic pollution problem is the widespread monoculture farming in the region and areas across the border.  Laying the blame on large transnational firms and the authorities, Withoon said farmers are being allowed to cut down forests to expand their farms and slash and burn their fields every year to grow corn. He said big companies sign contracts with farmers, providing them with seeds and buying their crops, while the authorities also encourage farmers to grow more monoculture cash crops such as maize and sugarcane.  “Even though some large food companies have promised not to buy maize from farms that are encroaching on forests and other inappropriate areas, many are still purchasing maize from neighbouring countries,” Withoon said.

Agency monitoring food prices Bangkok Post 6th Apr 2019
With consumer prices surging in March, manufacturers are being asked to maintain their prices, particularly during the transition period before the new government is formed. Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the department is monitoring the prices of processed foods and products for daily use to prevent traders from profiteering. "The department will not allow any consumer product manufacturers to raise prices during this period, which would affect the cost of living," he said. "The department has discussed the matter with the Thai Restaurant Association, and they pledged that higher fresh vegetable prices will not cause them to raise prices for processed food." Mr Whichai said the department is scheduled to call a meeting with consumer goods makers within the next two weeks to ask for cooperation in capping product prices. Next month, the ministry plans to host a joint public and private meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak to discuss the cost of living, particularly during the transition period.

Vietnam

Export of poultry products sees great potentials VOV 29th Apr 2019
For decades, output of animal husbandry of Vietnam has mainly served domestic market. However, currently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has opened policies to encourage firms to promote export of, first of all, poultry products to potential markets thanks to plentiful supply.

Drastic measures needed to lift yellow card vietnamnews.vn 24th Apr 2019
Việt Nam needs to take drastic measures to promptly ease the complicity in illegal fishing and promote sustainable use of marine resources. This will help Việt Nam get its yellow card – a warning from the European Commission (EU) that the country was not sufficiently tackling illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing – lifted, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has said. Speaking at the conference on urgent measures to lift the EU’s yellow card on Vietnamese seafood held yesterday, Nguyễn Quang Hùng, deputy director of the ministry’s Directorate of Fisheries said a delegation of the EU’s Directorate for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is expected to visit Việt Nam in late May for the final check. In case the country fails to have instituted controls on fishing and tracing origins, it will likely get a ‘red card’ warning – which means a complete trade ban on fisheries export to European markets.On October 23, 2017, the EU issued an official warning that it would ban seafood imports from Việt Nam if the country did not take measures to tackle illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The commission's carding system is the European Union's main tool in the fight against illegal fishing, encouraging countries to work with the commission to improve their fisheries governance and retain access to EU markets. The EC stipulated that Việt Nam needed to complete nine recommendations to have the designation lifted. Those included revising its legal framework to ensure compliance with international and regional rules applicable to the conservation and management of fisheries resources; ensuring the effective implementation and enforcement of the country’s revised laws; increasing the traceability of its seafood products; preventing sales of IUU products; and strengthening the effective implementation of international rules and management measures.

Agro-forestry-fishery exports fetch 12.4 billion USD in four months VOV 23rd Apr 2019
Export revenues of agro-forestry-fishery products in April is estimated to hit 3.5 billion USD, pushing the figure in the first four months of this year to 12.4 billion USD, equivalent to the figure recorded in the same period last year, reported the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

International co-operation drives agriculture development vietnamnews.vn 22nd Apr 2019
Nguyễn Xuân Đại, deputy director of the Hà Nội Department for Agriculture and Rural Development, talks to Hà Nội Mới (New Hà Nội) newspaper on the city’s achievements in international co-operation in agriculture in the last three years

Forestry exports on the rise vietnamnews.vn 29th Apr 2019
The forestry industry showed a strong increase in export value in the first four months of the year, according to the Việt Nam Forestry Administration. Forestry exports were estimated to have hit US$3.3 billion in the period, a year-on-year increase of 17.8 per cent, including $875 million in April alone. Key markets for Vietnamese forestry products included the US, Japan, the EU, China and the Republic of Korea, accounting for 87 per cent of the exports, it said.

Mekong Delta needs to develop logistics to cut export costs: conference vietnamnews.vn 25th Apr 2019
Developing logistics is an urgent requirement to develop the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta’s economy, a conference on improving its agriculture and aquaculture value chains heard in Cần Thơ City on Tuesday. Nguyễn Minh Toại, director of the city’s Department of Industry and Trade, told the conference that the delta, as a paddy and aquaculture hub of the country, accounted for 40 per cent of the country’s agriculture. Over 50 per cent of the rice supply and 90 per cent of exports are from there as are 65 per cent and 70 per cent of the aquaculture and fruit production, he said.

Hà Nội helps bring farmers into 21st century with tech vietnamnews.vn 20th Apr 2019
Nguyễn Đức Dần, chairman of the Ba Trại Commune People’s Committee, cannot hide his happiness as he discusses his community’s strides in tea production. Dần said tea production has been rising, boosting the incomes of local farmers making the commune the most important tea planting area in Hà Nội’s Ba Vì District with a total cultivated area of 560ha. In 2014, the commune received technical help from the Hà Nội Department of Agriculture and Rural Development to plant tea that meets Vietnamese Good Agriculture Practice (VietGAP) standards, which ensure a high level of standardised quality through the use of modern farming techniques. Local farmers were taught methods to update their ineffective old farming techniques.

EU remains top market of Vietnamese shrimp Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
The European Union (EU) was the largest market of Vietnamese shrimp in the first two months of 2019, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Entrepreneurs (VASEP). During January-February, export value of Vietnamese shrimp fell year-on-year by 15.2 percent to 373.6 million USD. Accounting for 20.5 percent of total export turnover, the EU secured its position as biggest buyer of Vietnamese shrimp. Within the EU, the UK, the Netherlands and Germany were the top purchasers. White-leg shrimp continued to occupy a key position in this market, making up 82 percent of total shrimp shipments. Spending 67.7 million USD on Vietnamese shrimp in the period, Japan was the second largest buyer. Experts have said that shipments to the East Asian country have shown audacious signs from the outset of the year, with the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) taking effect from January, and completion of tax reduction progress under the Vietnam-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (VJEPA). Local firms may bolster exports to the market as Japan has applied a zero percent tariff on Vietnamese seafood.

Vietnam agriculture giant wagers on banana Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
Hoang Anh Gia Lai Agrico has forecast that revenues from banana sales will be around VND10 billion ($430,900) a day this year. The company reported before the annual general meeting to be held at the end of this month that it expects bananas to contribute 73.3 percent of its revenues this year of VND4.78 trillion ($205.93 million). Its profit target is VND103 billion ($4.44 million). The firm hopes banana sales will grow for the next three years as it seeks to reduce the losses suffered last year by cutting down on inefficient investments and moving from palm oil to fruits among other strategies. Last year the company invested VND976 billion ($42 million) in 5,300 hectares of land in Cambodia to grow banana for export to China in response to rapidly rising demand. Chairman Doan Nguyen Duc said the company has been depending on rapidly ripening plants such as banana, chili and passion fruit to speed up the company’s cash flow cycle.

Action programme on sustainable development in Mekong Delta Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has approved an action programme implementing the Government’s resolution 120/NQ-CP on sustainable development of the Mekong Delta in response to climate change. The programme outlines six groups of tasks and solutions, including the revision, improvement and supplementation of mechanisms and policies on land to serve large-scale, highly competitive and sustainable agricultural goods production; supporting the application and transfer of science technology in agro-production; and developing urban and rural residential areas suitable with the conditions of each region. The PM requested an appropriate agricultural production structure focusing on aquaculture, fruit and rice along with developing the green and low-carbon emission industry, renewable energy and forestation, as well as protecting coastal areas. He suggested developing service – tourism into a strong economic sector by tapping the delta’s potential and natural advantages as well as its cultural characteristics.

Poultry sector works hard to meet rising demand Voice of Vietnam 16th Apr 2019
Vietnam needed to promote the development of it’s poultry sector due to rising demand for eggs and meat in the domestic and global markets. Experts made the comments at a recent meeting organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in Hanoi. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said it was necessary to focus on production to meet quality standards at home and abroad. This would create favourable conditions for domestic poultry products to meet hygiene and safety standards in export markets such as Japan, the Republic of Korea (RoK) and some ASEAN countries, Tien said. It would also help local businesses expand their production scale and export to potential markets including China and the Philippines, he said. However, experts said the industry needed a strategy to increase other processed poultry products including processed chicken and duck and other products processed from eggs.

US scraps anti-dumping duty on Vietnamese shrimp VnExpress 11th Apr 2019
The U.S. has lowered the anti-dumping duty on Vietnamese shrimp to zero percent. Photo by AFP Truong Dinh Hoe, general secretary of the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), said the preliminary duty of 4.58 percent has been scrapped on Wednesday for 32 local exporters following the 13th administrative review by the department of the anti-dumping duty on Vietnamese shrimps. The preliminary duty is set to become the foundation for the U.S. to abolish the duty in its upcoming final decision, Hoe told VnExpress. It will allow Vietnamese companies to expand further in the U.S. market, he added. The U.S. is among the largest importers of Vietnamese shrimp. Last year shipments were worth $3.55 billion despite falling by 7.8 percent, according to VASEP.

Vietnam bans weed killer ingredient glyphosate Voice of Vietnam 11th Apr 2019
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on April 10 decided to ban the use of glyphosate, an active ingredient in many weed controls. The MARD’s Plant Protection Department said the ban was made in line with Vietnamese laws and international regulations as well as with the country’s socio-economic conditions. The International Agency for Research on Cancer and other research institutes classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic to humans”, according to the department. Glyphosate has been widely used worldwide for its high efficiency in weed controls over 40 years. In Vietnam, the ingredient was registered for use in 1994 and since then, 104 commercial products containing glyphosate have been registered. In April 2016, the MARD halted new registrations of the substance in the country and collected information and scientific facts relating to the use of the ingredients’ on people’s health and the environment.

Farming production adapts to climate change Voice of Vietnam 10th Apr 2019
The agricultural production is in dire need of the international community’s assistance in dealing with climate change, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Le Quoc Doanh said. He was speaking at a policy forum discussing opportunities for climate-smart food system jointly held by the International Potato Centre, the Vietnam Academy of Agricultural Sciences, and The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Hanoi on April 10. Vietnam has implemented a project on restructuring agriculture towards raising added value and securing sustainable development for six years. Localities in the Mekong delta that is predicted to be hardest hit by climate change have shifted 40,000 ha of farming land to aquaculture and growing fruit trees as part of efforts to make climate-smart agriculture. At the same time, they still managed to maintain rice output by increasing productivity and the quality of rice varieties. Over the past time, international organizations have been helping Vietnam particularly the Mekong delta areas, reduce adverse impacts of climate change on agriculture, Doanh said.

Minister asks for efforts to achieve shrimp export targets Voice of Vietnam 9th Apr 2019
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) Nguyen Xuan Cuong has asked localities and enterprises to deploy measures to optimise opportunities for the shrimp sector to achieve the goal of 4.1-4.2 billion USD in export in 2019. The minister requested localities and businesses to promptly implement the plans for the shrimp sector in 2019, while strengthening connections in shrimp value chain, considering it as the key to reduce cost and improve quality and value. Cuong stressed the need to control the quality of the value chain from breeding shrimp, feed, environmental treatment products to production and processing stages to meet the demand of domestic and foreign markets, enhancing the competitiveness of Vietnamese shrimps. Businesses should pay greater attention to processing, optimising the capacity of existing factories to create products with high added value, while continuing expanding shrimp markets, he said. He asked agencies of the ministry to continue coordinating closely together in supporting the sustainable development of the sector. He assigned the Directorate of Fisheries to summarise the opinions and recommendations of businesses for deploying timely solutions.

Vietnam, Netherlands agree to enhance agricultural partnership Voice of Vietnam 9th Apr 2019
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong and Dutch Vice Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality Marjolijn Sonnema discussed ways to boost partnership in sustainable agriculture and food security in Hanoi on April 9. The two sides shared information and viewpoints on policies, situation and potential of bilateral cooperation within the framework of the Vietnam-Netherlands Strategic Partnership Arrangement (SPA) in sustainable agriculture and food security. Cuong and Sonnema agreed that the development of sustainable value chain plays the role as the backbone in partnership between the two countries, with focus on customers’ demands and production efficiency, not productivity. Dutch technologies will contribute to the expansion of sustainable value chains by reducing post-harvest losses, they held. The two sides concurred that the Netherlands and Vietnam will work together in building a roadmap to apply and develop post-harvest technologies. They agreed that the transformation of the agricultural sector of the Mekong Delta region will remain a major cooperation orientation between the two sides within the SPA framework in the future.

Hoa Binh province declares free from African swine fever Voice of Vietnam 9th Apr 2019
The northern province of Hoa Binh has declared no more cases of African swine fever (ASF), becoming the first locality among 23 cities and provinces affected nationwide to get free from ASF. Addressing the ceremony held in Luong Son district on April 9, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien said Hoa Binh passed the duration of 30 days since its last ASF-infected animals culled and has found no more new cases so it is eligible to declare free from ASF. The quick control of ASF outbreak in Hoa Binh is attributed to the prompt direction of the Government, the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and other competent agencies, he said. Hoa Binh’s departments and competent agencies will keep a close eye on the implementation of preventive measures to prevent the disease from coming back. On March 6, the Luong Son district’s People’s Committee reported the first ASF cases in Ho Thanh commune and then Thanh Luong commune.

Vietnam targets 10 billion USD from seafood exports in 2019 VOV 9th Apr 2019
Vietnam earned 9 billion USD from aquaculture exports last year despite restrictions imposed on many of its key exports. This year the fishery industry has targeted an export revenue of 10 billion USD.

Farmers get smart to improve business Vietnam News 8th Apr 2019
Võ Văn Trưng has become the first person in his village to go high tech and introduce modern facilities on his farm. Trưng has given up producing rice and is now growing fruit. He has spent VNĐ700 million (US$30,400) in 2015 to build a greenhouse system over 2,000sq.m to grow cantaloupe melons. But business was so good he expanded creating an extra 1,000sq.m of greenhouse area. Trưng, lives in Tân Long B Village, Bình Thành Commune, Phụng Hiệp District in the southern province of Hậu Giang. Trưng harvests four times per year. His profits made up more than 70 per cent of the total takings. So far many models of agriculture applying high technology have been successful.

Vietnam capable of producing vaccine against African swine fever Voice of Vietnam 7th Apr 2019
Vietnam is studying and will be capable of producing vaccine against the African swine fever, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development at a recent meeting in Hanoi. Since the first case was detected in China, the Ministry has designed an action plan to respond to the African swine fever outbreak and worked with the Ministry of Science and Technology on a rapid diagnostic kit to prevent the virus from spreading. The Vietnam National University of Agriculture is studying the virus biological characteristics for vaccine production. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said “The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Health are working with research institutes to produce vaccine against the African swine fever as soon as possible. Vietnam will finalize biosecurity solutions to crack down the outbreak.” The African swine fever virus has been detected in 60 countries around the world. There has been no medicine to prevent the disease since the the first outbreak in Kenya a century ago.

Sugar industry could be sweeter with restructuring Voice of Vietnam 5th Apr 2019
The domestic sugar industry should restructure all stages of its production process towards diversifying products to improve competitiveness, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD). At a meeting between leaders of the MARD and the Vietnam Sugarcane and Sugar Association (VSSA) in Hanoi this week, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said that to improve the competitiveness of the sugar industry, "production cost must be reduced at all stages." “Besides that, the association and businesses need to pay special attention to mechanisation, irrigation, organic farming, cooperation models in production, new cooperative models and diversification of products made from sugarcane products,” Cuong said. “Those solutions would make products with high quality and low production cost for the industry’s sustainable development in the future.” The ministry will accompany the association and enterprises to promote the production of sugarcane varieties to meet demand on the varieties of farmers, thereby raising Vietnam's sugarcane productivity to 90-100 tonnes from 50-60 tonnes at present, he said.

Southern region plans to grow other crops on low-yield rice fields Vietnam News 4th Apr 2019
The Mekong Delta and the south-eastern region plan to grow other crops on more than 126,300ha of low-yield rice fields this year as a means of adapting to climate change and improving farmers’ incomes. Of the figure, 124,526ha are in the delta, according to the Plant Cultivation Department. Farmers will rotate rice and other crops in the same fields or stop growing rice completely and grow only other crops. In the 2018 -19 winter-spring rice crop farmers switched to other crops on 32,840ha of rice fields in the southern region, including 30,990ha in the delta. They grew corn, peanut, soybean, sesame, vegetables, orange, grapefruit, mango, and dragon fruit. The winter-spring rice crop is the main one in the delta, the country’s rice granary, so the rate of switching to other crops was not high in 2018-19 winter-spring. The rate will be higher in the summer – autumn and autumn – winter crops this year. The switch helps save water amid the more frequent droughts, improve soil fertility and prevent diseases, according to the department. It also diversifies agricultural products and fetches farmers higher incomes.

Rice drags Q1 agro-forestry-fishery exports down VN Express 4th Apr 2019
The latest report published by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) estimates agricultural, forestry and fishery export turnover for March 2019 at $3.3 billion. According to the report, high export growth in Q1 was seen for items like tea, up 15.4 percent; rubber, up 18.5 percent; pangasius fish, up 10 percent; and rattan and bamboo products, up 37.7 percent. However, export value of key agricultural produce continued to decline. Most notably, the volume of rice exported in the first three months fell 3.5 percent to 1.43 million tons, totaling $593 million, down 20.2 percent in value compared to the same period last year. Despite the poor Q1 performance, MARD is optimistic that there will be many new contracts in the second quarter because Vietnam’s rice prices are very competitive compared to other exporters. Similarly, coffee exports also saw a sharp Q1 decline to 483,000 tons worth $841 million, down 14.2 percent in volume and 22.8 percent in value year-on-year.

First smart rice cultivation model piloted in Hau Giang Voice of Vietnam 4th Apr 2019
The Mekong Delta province of Hau Giang on April 3 piloted its first smart rice cultivation model in Vi Thang commune, Vi Thuy district. The model is jointly carried by several local units and Rynan Holdings JSC, whose smart rice cultivation technologies are being applied in several Mekong Delta provinces. Covering a total area of 12ha, the model attracts the participation of 12 local households. The model can cut water volume for production by 30 percent, labour and seedling costs by over 50 percent, and fertilizer and other greenhouse gases by over 40 percent. As a result, it can boost profits by 20 percent compared with normal cultivation. The pilot of this model is the first step Hau Giang is taking to turn its chemical agriculture into an organic agriculture. At present, over 80 percent of Hau Giang’s population make their living through agriculture. The locality is taking advantage of all resources and opportunities to apply technological advances of the fourth Industrial Revolution in local production.

Practical reforms required for better agriculture: Gov't Vietnam News 2nd Apr 2019
Prime Minister, the Government and enterprises want ministries and agencies to carry out practical reforms, particularly those removing unnecessary administrative procedures, to create a better business climate in agriculture, a Government official said. Minister and Chairman of the Government Office, Mai Tiến Dũng, who is also head of the Prime Minister’s working group, made the statement on Monday at a meeting with ministries to address issues in agricultural production and trade. According to the Việt Nam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), under Circular 21 issued last year by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, only 47 fishing ports across Việt Nam are qualified to certify the origin of aquaculture products out of a total 83 fishing ports in the country. As dozens of fishing ports are unable to grant certificates of origin, about 5,400 tonnes of aquaculture products are stuck at the ports, unable to reach the market, according to VASEP. Another circular issued last year by the Ministry – Circular 36 – requires aquaculture products from transit ports to Việt Nam to be certified by authorities of the countries where the transit ports are based. The importers must show a copy of the certificate to Vietnamese authorities, which, according to VASEP, is unnecessary and slows the movement of imported aquaculture goods.

Costs cause seafood firms to sink Vietnam News 2nd Apr 2019
Rising production costs are harming the competitiveness of Vietnamese seafood products, according to experts. These include the prices of feed, material input, electricity and labour. The average retail price for power increased 8.36 per cent last Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT). The hike means that electricity bills have risen from VNĐ1,720 (7.49 US cents) per kWh to VNĐ1,864 (8.03 cents), excluding VAT. Power tariffs for businesses and industrial zones are now divided into two levels: VNĐ3,076 per kWh for peak hours and VNĐ970 per kWh for off-peak hours. Dương Nghĩa Quốc, chairman of the Việt Nam Pangasius Association, said the increase in power prices has worried tra fish producers because rising input costs will impact production and selling prices. Quốc was quoted by the Nông thôn ngày nay newspaper as saying that at present, electricity consumption for farming and processing of aquatic products as well as operation of aquatic feed factories is significant. Competition at home and abroad is also becoming increasingly fierce.